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Does anyone know how to make mozzarella cheese 'crispy and golden' ? [moved from General Topics]

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mapsnrop Mar 4, 2010 01:44 PM

For a while now, I've been trying to replicate my favorite pizza from my favorite pizza restaurant.

Here's a picture of what I'm trying to achieve:

http://www.ingle73.com/temp/pizza1.jpg

The cheese is an almost uniform golden, with a real 'crispy' or almost crunchy texture. I've been told that I'm using the exact same brand and type of cheese as the restaurant (100% mozzarella).

Style of pizza?
I've heard it described as 'Greek bar style' pizza, not sure if that helps.

Apparently they're using a regular commercial oven with regular pizza pans.

When I try to replicate it at home, my cheese doesn't end up looking anything like this or having the same texture.

Someone suggested that perhaps it's actually a blend of mozzarella and mild white cheddar?

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  1. goodhealthgourmet RE: mapsnrop Mar 4, 2010 01:53 PM

    FYI, the photo link you provided is a forbidden page so i can't see the picture. but yes, some Greek pizzas use a blend of mozz and mild white cheddar, or even all cheddar, so maybe start with a blend and if it still doesn't turn out he way you want, try all mild white cheddar.

    BTW, there's a way to "cheat" to get the cheese brown & crisp - sprinkle on some grated Parm. it will affect the flavor a little, but should give you the texture you're looking for.

    2 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
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      mapsnrop RE: goodhealthgourmet Mar 4, 2010 03:00 PM

      Thanks for the tips, definitely appreciated!

      I was getting the same forbidden error as you, not really sure why. I uploaded it here and it seems to work:

      http://img169.imageshack.us/img169/88...

      ^^ what I'm trying to achieve.

      I'm definitely going for crispiness, but as you can see in the pic, I'm actually trying to avoid the 'browning'. I'm looking more for what you see in the 2 slices on the right.

      1. re: mapsnrop
        goodhealthgourmet RE: mapsnrop Mar 4, 2010 03:18 PM

        a-ha, so you want maximum crisp with minimal browning. well, lactose contributes to browning, and cheddar is lower in lactose than mozz, so i think you should go with that. and since i now know browning is NOT the goal, forget my Parm suggestion :)

    2. flylice2x RE: mapsnrop Mar 4, 2010 02:05 PM

      Maybe you can put the pizza under the broiler just before it is finished, say abt 1 - minutes. May have to experiment on what rack to use to get this done..

      4 Replies
      1. re: flylice2x
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        mapsnrop RE: flylice2x Mar 4, 2010 03:01 PM

        Thanks Fly, I've experimented with the placement in the oven, and putting it under the broiler but it seems to brown the cheese more than 'goldenize' it.

        Here's a pic of what I'm going for:

        http://img169.imageshack.us/img169/88...

        The 2 slices on the right are the best example.

        1. re: mapsnrop
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          jeanmarieok RE: mapsnrop Mar 4, 2010 03:04 PM

          Not that this is helpful to you, but swiss cheese gets that exact golden color when it's melted then broiled.

          1. re: mapsnrop
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            dijon RE: mapsnrop Mar 4, 2010 03:41 PM

            Browning the cheese is critical to flavor developement, so, IMHO, you should seek the golden color, we always ask for it and seldom get it. A hot oven is needed, our convection oven at 450 or greater works fine, we also used finish the pizza by broiling at 4" for a couple minutes, watch closely. but i digress and back to your stated query, the hard cheeses like parmesan on top might do what you are asking for.

          2. re: flylice2x
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            babbabooey RE: flylice2x Mar 4, 2010 03:47 PM

            yes to broiler suggestion

          3. Bryan Pepperseed RE: mapsnrop Mar 5, 2010 04:48 AM

            Personally, I prefer my cheese more like the slice on the left than the two on the right, but off the top of my head.........

            1) If your cheese has been refrigerated, perhaps it's too cold to get to the way you like it before the crust is overcooked. Maybe you could try to get it to room temperature before going in the oven. I also always heat my sauce in a pan on the stovetop so that it starts melting the cheese before the pie even goes in the oven.
            2) Agree with others about broiler - maybe preheating the oven longer would get you a more even heat to radiate to the cheese.
            3) Could this be a gas oven issue? I've always used electric ovens so I don't know if the moist heat that gas produces inhibits cheese browning or not - perhaps others here would know about that.

            EDIT: One more thought ..... maybe after the pie has cooked a bit and the cheese has melted as much as it's going to, you could spray (as in a fine mist) it with olive oil. Perhaps the "browning" would be more even.

            10 Replies
            1. re: Bryan Pepperseed
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              mapsnrop RE: Bryan Pepperseed Mar 5, 2010 10:07 AM

              Great tips, thanks Bryan! I'm using an electric oven. I use a few techniques to get my oven temperature as hot as possible...

              - preheat the oven to maximum for at least 30 min
              - preheat my cast iron pizza pan in the oven, and on on the stovetop
              - transferring the pizza to the cast iron pan

              This has resulted in much better pizza than I used to make.

              I think there's a few things I'll try next...

              - room temperature ingredients and heating the sauce as you suggested
              - trying a blend of mild white cheddar and mozzarella, and perhaps even an all cheddar. Maybe the person who told me the pizza I'm trying to recreate was 100% mozzarella was misinformed.

              1. re: mapsnrop
                Bryan Pepperseed RE: mapsnrop Mar 6, 2010 05:04 AM

                Glad to try to help. In case you haven't checked out Pizzamaking.com, I'm posting a link to their forum on cheeses because I took another look at your photo and I'd now have to say that you and the others are probably correct in thinking that it's more a "cheese specific" issue than anything else.

                http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/inde...

                Now that I realize I was originally paying more attention to color than to texture, the mystery is starting to intrigue me and I think I'll do a little experimenting myself.

                Personally, I'm leaning towards those who have suggested grated parm. However, in case I'm wrong, I think I'll try different "formulas" on different sections of the same pie - of course that would be for purely scientific reasons and has nothing to do with me watching my overall cheese intake.
                Seriously, good luck with your search, and I'll try to post back if I come up with anything worthwhile.

                1. re: Bryan Pepperseed
                  m
                  mapsnrop RE: Bryan Pepperseed Mar 7, 2010 02:47 PM

                  Thanks Bryan, that would definitely be appreciated!

                  So, this weekend we made another attempt. Here's what we did differently based on some suggestions...

                  - left the toppings out to reach room temperature
                  - heated up the sauce before applying it to the dough
                  - use a 50/50 blend of white cheddar and mozzarella

                  cooking method: cast iron pan (pre-heated) into a pre-heated (45 min) oven cranked up to 550F.

                  Here is a pic of the result:

                  http://img40.imageshack.us/img40/8798...

                  To us, the coloring of the cheese turned out the same as our previous attempts with 100% mozzarella. The difference this time, was that the cheese was slightly greasier.

                  We're still not getting the uniform golden color or the 'crispiness' of the cheese that I'm looking for.

                  In the picture below, the pizza is half vegetarian, and half hawaiian. One thing we noticed about the Atlas Pizza (the one we're trying to recreate) was that the pizza with more toppings gets more of the browned effect like ours does.

                  But it still seems like we wouldn't be getting the same crispiness even with less toppings.

                  1. re: mapsnrop
                    d
                    dijon RE: mapsnrop Mar 8, 2010 11:56 AM

                    The browning of the cheese looks about perfect IMHO

                    1. re: dijon
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                      mapsnrop RE: dijon Mar 8, 2010 06:22 PM

                      It's funny, everyone says the pizza I'm making looks better than the one I'm trying to achieve.

                      The one I make tastes just great, but I'm still hoping to figure out the key to less browning and more crispness in texture.

                  2. re: Bryan Pepperseed
                    m
                    mapsnrop RE: Bryan Pepperseed Mar 29, 2010 05:01 PM

                    Just an update on this. I ended up e-mailing the company that provides the cheese to the restaurant that makes the pizza I'm trying to re-create.

                    "
                    Thank you for your email.
                    The cheese that is used on their pizza, is Mozzarella -Franco's.

                    Have a great day! "

                    This verifies for me that I've been experimenting with the correct cheese all along.

                    I've done some more experiments including blocking the direct heat from the broiler, which seemed to help a little bit, but I still seem to end up browning the cheese much more than they do.

                    I'm starting to think it must be related to the cooking process, they're using a commercial pizza oven, I'm using a home oven. I'm not really sure what differences between the two would cause the variation, whether it's the heat level or type of heat, etc. Guess I'll have to do some more research.

                    1. re: mapsnrop
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                      celeryroot RE: mapsnrop Mar 29, 2010 05:18 PM

                      I have gotten that look when I used Montery Jack instead of Mozzarella. Also you might try drizzling some olive oil on top of cheese before baking at high heat.

                      1. re: mapsnrop
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                        runwestierun RE: mapsnrop Mar 29, 2010 05:19 PM

                        Often commercial pizza ovens are hotter than home ovens, and the heat doesn't come from the top (like a broiler). I wonder if you could use a propane gas grill? I can get mine as hot as 750F. Maybe high heat from below, like a grill turned to high or almost high, wouldn't brown the cheese so fast and make it more the color you are looking for? It would still be hot enough to bake the pizza properly, though. Do you have a grill?

                        1. re: runwestierun
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                          mapsnrop RE: runwestierun Mar 30, 2010 11:23 AM

                          Good ideas, thanks guys!

                          runwestierun: I do have a grill, but not one that can get up to 750F. I've looked on Pizzamaking.com at some of the grill ideas that they have.

                          Ideally, it would be nice to know if I could get what I'm looking for without investing into a new or modified grill, but I guess there's only one way to really find out!

                          1. re: mapsnrop
                            r
                            runwestierun RE: mapsnrop Mar 30, 2010 12:40 PM

                            The thermometer on my grill (super average model grill, v old) only goes to 500F, but the grill gets lots hotter. Propane is hotter than natural gas.

                2. r
                  runwestierun RE: mapsnrop Mar 8, 2010 07:01 PM

                  Hmm. Have you tried going to the restaurant, asking to see the pizza chef, presenting him with a lovely gift with a relatively high alcohol content, thanking him, praising him, and then asking him how he gets the cheese so crispy without browning it? That usually works for me, as long as I wear a push-up bra.

                  I am always trying to get the cheese to brown. The cheeses I have trouble browning are the drier cheeses (parm browns less readily on a pizza for me than mozz) and the dreaded low fat cheeses are harder to brown (bought a bunch on sale by accident).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: runwestierun
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                    aggiecat RE: runwestierun May 11, 2010 09:26 AM

                    I know this is a little old, but the problem may be your are cooking too high for too short a time. Say, you try putting a pizza stone or some terracotta tiles in the bottom of the oven before you preheat. This will help dry and moderate your oven temp, it will hold whatever temp you give it better. Whether it's rocket hot or 350. Then put your pan in and preheat, then put the pie in and cook it longer at a lower heat. If you want cheese to get crispy and not brown or burn you typically are looking for a more of a melba toast process and not a broiling process. Your need to drive the moisture out of the mozz without overbrowning the crust or cheese so slower and longer ought to get you there. Clearly fast and hot aren't working.

                    Right? I could be wrong but we love crispy cheese toast and that's how we get there. The bread usually dries out more than you'd want but, we don't have the extra sauce and toppings between the bread and the cheese, just cheese and bread. However, even with thick bread, the inside of the bread stays soft and the outside is chewy/cheese is crisp and only sllightly brown. Good luck, pizza perfection is worth searching for.

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